WW1 Revisited

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The Above The Battlefield project was back on the Somme over Easter photographing and filming various locations including some of the smaller battlefield cemeteries around Beaumont-Hamel. New Munich Trench was a position prepared by British troops at the end of the Battle of the Somme: on 15th November 1916 units of the 51st (Highland) Division captured Munich Trench and 2/2nd Highland Field Company Royal Engineers and 1/8th Royal Scots dug New Munich Trench…. Read More

London Cemetery and Extension was made in the 1920s when the entire cemetery was made permanent; but the original burials by the main gate date back to the capture of High Wood by the 47th (London) Division on 15th September 1916 during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, when tanks were used for the first time. The cemetery was greatly enlarged in the 1920s and 30s from an area much wider than just the… Read More

This time of year, as the days get ever shorter, my mind goes back to the many winters I have spent on the Somme. During the very first temperatures mirrored those of the coldest winter of the Great War, when it dropped to nearly -25 in the front line area. For Western Europe that was cold, and it gave me renewed respect for the men who lived in those muddy, often snow-filled… Read More

Ovillers Military Cemetery was started during the winter of 1916/17 when dead from the front line between Thiepval and Courcelette were buried here, including the son of the then famous Music Hall star Sir Harry Lauder. His son, Captain John Lauder, was killed in the front line during a quiet period in December 1916. His grave is in the staggered collection of burials clearly visible on the right in this film. There… Read More

Ovillers is a village on the Somme battlefields, taken by German troops in September 1914 and which later formed part of their defences in what would become Mash Valley on 1st July 1916; the First Day of the Battle of the Somme. The village was finally cleared more than a week later and during the winter of 1916/17 a cemetery was made here for casualties coming back from the front line between… Read More

This memorial to the Tank Corps commemorates their role in the Third Battle of Ypres but is part of a larger project to get a large scale replica of a First World War tank operational. The project has a fascinating blog that is worth reading and shows this framework tank replica going into place. Located on the road between St Julien – Vancouver Corner and Poelcapelle and while it appears to be… Read More

The First World War trenches at Main des Massiges have featured several times on this site recently and understandably so as they are among the most impressive anywhere on the Western Front. Here a local association has used experimental archaeology to recreate both French and German trenches from the early war period. This was an area that saw heavy fighting in 1915 including some of the earliest examples of war underground with… Read More

Hooge Crater Cemetery has 5,923 graves; more than half of them are unknown soldiers. One of the great Silent Cites of Flanders it sits on a ridge astride the Menin Road close to where flame-throwers were used for the first time against British troops in July 1915 and was the scene of intensive mining activity as tunnellers fought beneath the Western Front. Filming cemeteries like this for the Above The Battlefield project… Read More

The trench system at Main de Massiges, a hillside in the Champagne battlefields that was the scene of heavy fighting in 1915 and became almost a household name in France, is one of the most impressive on the Western Front today. Trenches have been excavated and restored by a local association as can be seen in this aerial image. Known by very few visitors to the battlefields the Main de Massiges trenches… Read More

Hooge was a small hamlet on the Menin Road east of Ypres and the scene of fighting from the First Battle of Ypres in October 1914. By 1915 it was very much on the front line and saw the first use of flamethrowers against British troops in July 1915 and became an area of intensive mining activity beneath the Western Front. Hooge Crater Cemetery was a post-war burial ground and made by… Read More

The village of Serre was in German hands from September 1914. Sitting on a rise, the trenches on the slopes surrounding it dominated the Allied positions. On 1st July 1916, the First Day of the Battle of the Somme, men from northern Pals battalions of the 31st Division attacked here achieving very little but suffering heavy losses. One epitaph on these men, from John Harris’ Covenant With Death, reads: Two years in… Read More

Trenches that look anything like what they did a century ago are very rare but this site in the Champagne is quite amazing and has featured on this site before. This image was taken this week looking out across the fields where the fighting was very heavy in September 1915. A full article on this site will appear on WW1 Revisited this winter.

Prowse Point Military Cemetery was started in late 1914 by men of the British 4th Division who served in this sector from the end of the First Battle of Ypres through the first winter of the war in 1914/15. Units of the division took part in the Christmas Truce here in December 1914. The cemetery has 217 graves. The film shows a typical battlefield cemetery from the early war years along with… Read More

Today I was in Flanders visiting the area around Ypres. Close to the village of Ploegsteert, or ‘Plugstreet‘ as the British Tommy called it, I went to Prowse Point Cemetery, in modern Wallonia and near to where the Christmas Truce took place in December 1914. An international event is taking place here this year for the centenary of the Truce and as part of this a set of trenches is being constructed… Read More

This week marks the centenary of the start of the First Battle of Ypres when the men of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) defended the ground around Ypres for the first time in what would become almost four years of constant fighting in this area. The magnificent Black Watch Memorial at the site of Black Watch Corner near Polygon Wood overlooks the battlefield where a century ago the Old Contemptibles fought their… Read More